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Sacred Heart College

San Francisco, California

1874-1988 (Collegiate Division 1874-1928)


I have been able to purchase the 1926 Blue and White, the school yearbook.  Many school events were covered by the San Francisco Chronicle and Morning Call.   Edward J. Power profiles the school in  A History of Catholic Higher Education in the United States.  In 1907 the Overland Monthly profiles it as being "typical of all the Catholic schools of this city."   The 1914-22 seal was provided by the Mont La Salle Archives.


Sacred Heart College was founded by the Christian Brothers to provide a classical education for the young men of the San Francisco area.  It enrolled students between the ages of 7 and 20.  Its levels of instruction were Primary, Grammar, Preparatory and Collegiate.  While it was not chartered to grant degrees, it apparently provided coursework beyond twelfth grade.  Describing the 1890 commencement, the Morning Call listed seven students who " having completed the coursework prescribed for the collegiate department of Sacred Heart College, received certificates entitling them to enter the graduating class of St. Mary’s College, Oakland.  Edward J. Power notes that these “college courses were suspended after 1928.”


Sacred Heart also provided a strong commercial course of studies to prepare young men for the business world.  


Sacred Heart provided numerous co-curricular activities for its 600 and more students.  The Azarias Reading Club provided opportunity for reading and discussion.  There was a Alexandrian Debating Society providing both interclass debates and an annual debate with St. Mary's College.  The Blue and White was both the school yearbook and a monthly publication of student writing.  A 100-voice choir and an orchestra provided musical entertainment at commencement exercises.   Dramatic productions also figured in the newspaper accounts of school activities.  Those accounts also show that examinations were open to the public to allow friends and family to watch students perform.


In 1988 Sacred Heart College merged with the all-girls Cathedral High School.  That school continues today as Sacred Heart Cathedral Preparatory, a co-educational high school.


Bricks and Mortar

The new building at the corner of Larkin and Eddy was completed when Sacred Heart College opened in January 1874.  An L-shaped, Corinthian-style building, it was built to accommodate 1500 students.  Each of the ten large classrooms opened into the hallways to provide access in case of fire.   A large hall with stage served as chapel and assembly room.   Ironically this building burned in 1906 following the earthquake. 


The 1905 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map (left)shows a three-story frame structure  fronting on Eddy Street.  The building featured fire escape stairs and a hot water heater in the basement, but an external water closet. 


After a few years in temporary quarters, Sacred Heart moved to a new building on the corner of Ellis and Franklin streets in 1914.  



            Team name "Fighting Irish"

            Colors Blue and white

While an image exists of an 1892 football team, the first mention of a sports event for Sacred Heart was a football game with St. Ignatius (now San Francisco University) in 1893.  The Chronicle notes that the game, won by Sacred Heart 14-4, was played under intercollegiate rules and that Sacred Heart's uniforms were “multicolored and fantastic.  A year later the baseball team is included in the standings of a collegiate baseball league with Stanford, St. Mary’s and St. Ignatius.  In 1907 newspapers reported that the school was now part of the Academic Athletic League with a note that they "have always given considerable time to the diamond.”  A 1909 note in the Call shows that at least in track, Sacred Heart tried to find a ground between schools such as Stanford and the local high schools with a division including St. Ignatius, St. Mary's, Santa Clara and St. Joseph's of Berkeley.





The 1892 Sacred Heart College football team.  Note the shape of the football. (

 Accessed 2-5-2018

The 1926 Blue and White shows football, basketball, baseball and golf teams participating in the San Francisco Athletic League.  In addition to regular varsity or unlimited teams, Sacred Heart had 130 pound and 110 pound teams participating.   The yearbook also shows a strong interclass program in all sports including track.


Prominent Sacred Heart athletic alumni include Hall of Fame baseball greats Harry Heilmann and Joe Cronin, Brooklyn first baseman Dolph Camilli, and heavyweight boxing champion Jim Corbett.

Note: Images are used in accordance with their “terms of use” as I understand those terms.  Recopying or republishing these images may be restricted or forbidden.

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